Life and career
Though Burrell battled double pneumonia for eight years as a child, she performed her first solo with the church choir at the age of only one year old singing Andrae Crouch's "Hallelujah Praise". She is the daughter of a pastor in the Church of God in Christ. Burrell began her gospel career proper performing with Reverend James Cleveland's Gospel Music Workshop Choir, Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir of Dallas and The Inspirational Sounds Mass Choir of Houston.
Her first independent album, Try Me Again, was released on the Texas-based boutique label Pearl Records in 1995. Though limited distribution kept the album from nationwide recognition, it did build a strong reputation that led to her being signed to Tommy Boy Gospel and the now-classic Everlasting Life, produced by Asaph Alexander Ward. The album performed well and peaked at #12 on the Billboard Gospel Charts.
Quickly becoming known as a virtuoso vocalist and pianist, it seemed only logical to produce a live album which Burrell recorded in November 2000 at the annual COGIC Convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Though the recording of the concert was widely said to be troubled, requiring notably some overdubs and post-production, the resulting Live In Concert album released in 2001 satisfied eager fans and earned Burrell a Grammy nomination for Best Soul Gospel Album in 2002.
Though her then-label, Tommy Boy Gospel, closed shortly after the release of Live In Concert, by 2002, she had already signed a recording contract with Elektra Records who had newly considerable success in the gospel market with signing Yolanda Adams and Karen Clark Sheard. Unfortunately, this contract yielded only a guest appearance on the all-star gospel track Missy Elliott-produced "Higher Ground" which first appeared as a bonus track on Missy's album Miss E... So Addictive, but was later featured on Karen Clark Sheard's 2nd Chance album.
Since that time, Burrell has become a wife and mother with a son by the name of Christian Burrell. She has continued to perform live and to collaborate with other artists. Though only intermittently active as a recording artist, Kim Burrell has established and hosts the Ephesians 4 conference annually to show up-and-coming singers, dancers and other artists how to improve the quality of their craft.
Kim Burrell was featured in a half-hour MTV special From The Church To The Charts in conjunction with the gospel themed motion picture Fighting Temptations. Among those who count Burrell as an influence are such contemporaries as Jessica Simpson, Beyoncé Knowles, Faith Evans and Mariah Carey. In 2004, Kim Burrell made an unlikely guest turn along with Kelly Price on R. Kelly's "3-Way Phone Call" playing the part of Price's "prayer partner" in the soap-opera-like song.